Vinyl Corner is a feature where we take a look at vinyl pressings of various albums and weigh them up to see just how good they sound, how well they’re pressed and what sort of packaging to expect – as well as giving a brief overview of the music itself. This time we’re checking out the latest release, ‘Resolve’, from contemporary composer Poppy Ackroyd, which hit shelves via One Little Indian at the start of February.
Poppy Ackroyd‘s solo work over the past six years has produced some smart, engaging nu-classical, combining the repetitive rhythmic basis of modern minimalism with the impressionistic, dreamlike melodies of piano-based composers such as Satie. It’s a powerful mixture and one that, despite its influences, allows Ackroyd room to experiment and establish her own distinctive sound and approach. Her piano work leads the album, with the percussive backing egging her on continuously, ensuring that the music remains propulsive throughout.
Spread over two heavyweight LPs, despite a fairly average runtime of 47 minutes, this is a release clearly intended to present ‘Resolve’ with the kind of clear, precise audio quality that such an album needs in order to shine. With sides lasting on average around 12 minutes, the LPs could potentially have been cut at 45rpm to increase sound quality further; however the 33⅓rpm speed still sounds great and the album has been mastered in such a way that the innate clarity and delicate intricacies of the melodies and sonics remain intact and sonorous throughout. The double LP format certainly means there’s no risk of inner groove distortion from overly long sides. Vinyl is heavyweight here and both records sit flat on the platter during playback. We did find a slight visual imperfection on the first disc, with a few small dints in the surface of the record visible when held in the light – presumably from a mis-press at the factory (having said that, these did not affect play, so no harm done there). Generally speaking, playback is quiet and uninterrupted throughout with a very low noise floor and a soundscape free of surface noise. We did get pops on the first few rotations of side 1 but, other than that, there were no notable incidents of surface noise other than the occasional errant light crackle. Although not quite perfect, then, all-in-all we’re happy with the quality of this one and the vinyl version stands as a great way to hear ‘Resolve’.
Packaging and presentation is fairly minimalist on this release, but it’s tastefully done. Cover art is subtle but quietly affecting and font choice is likewise tasteful. We would have preferred to have seen the album in a gatefold sleeve rather than the wide-spined single pocket sleeve that the LPs are housed in, but the actual print quality of the sleeve is nice. Card is roughly mid-weight but a light texturing of the sleeve gives the packaging a boutique, appealing tactility, which is a bonus. Both records are housed in printed art inner sleeves bearing altered reprisals of the cover art, in addition to credits for each song. Once again, these sleeves are lightly textured and the minimalist layout gives the whole package a pleasing cohesion and visual identity. Labels likewise bear variants of the cover art but, thankfully, they do clearly mark which side is which – a courtesy that some more artistically presented modern releases frustratingly fail to observe. While we would advise storing the record in polylined inner sleeves for protection, rather than the printed inners, they’re well printed and one of the better made art inner sleeves we’ve seen in a while.
Poppy Ackroyd‘s ‘Resolve’ is a meticulous, measured album; it’s deeply atmospheric and frequently placid but there’s enough compositional depth under the surface to pull listeners back for repeat plays. The One Little Indian vinyl pressing is well made, with a good quality vinyl pressing and attractive, if subtle, packaging.